For too many folks, investing is a zero-sum game: It's either stocks or funds, value or growth, fear or greed. Truth is, that kind of binary thinking can get you in a bind, and the savviest investors are those who mix up their approach to the market.

Fool circle
Mutual funds, for example, can make a great portfolio foundation. As the Fool's resident fund geek, I'm a big fan of battle-tested active managers, but indexing types have compelling options, too. Plunk down a chunk of change on Vanguard 500 Index (VFINX), and you'll procure dirt cheap exposure to the likes of ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), General Electric (NYSE:GE), and Citigroup (NYSE:C) -- the fund's top three holdings at the close of December. You'll also assure that at least a portion of your portfolio stays within spitting distance of the broader market.

Once you've laid a foundation, you'll be in good position to add individual stocks to your mix. On that front, I'd advise slotting in growth and value plays. The fear/greed pendulum swings both ways, after all, and so it makes Foolish sense to offset race cars such as Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) and (NASDAQ:AMZN) -- stocks with price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios that currently reside in the market's nosebleed section -- with more conservative, low P/E plays such as Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-B) and Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN).

Get jazzed
Then there's the matter of personal finance -- the realm of both saving money and earning more of it through, for example, shaving the interest rate you pay for credit card debt and plunking your short-term cash into interest-bearing savings accounts that pay the sweetest rates.

Make no mistake: Even if -- and I'd argue especially if -- you consider yourself a hardcore stock jock, this area of your financial life needs plenty of care and feeding. After all, it dovetails perfectly with investing: The more you save and earn, the more moola you'll have more to plow into the market.

The Foolish bottom line
If that kind of big-picture financial philosophy sounds about right to you -- and if you'd like to learn how to use it to maximum advantage -- consider taking our Motley Fool Green Light service for a risk-free spin. At Motley Fool Green Light we cover all the bases, checking in with news and ideas you can use right away to make the most of what you're making in terms of both investing and personal finance.

So click here to give us a go. You'll have 30 days to peruse the service and decide if it might be for you. There's no obligation to stick around if you find it's not for you.

Shannon Zimmerman runs point on the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service and co-advises Motley Fool Green Light with his pal Dayana Yochim. At the time of publication, he didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. Electronic Arts and are Stock Advisor recommendations. Berkshire Hathaway is an Inside Value pick. You can check out the Fool's strict disclosure policy by clicking right here.